What is a Body Composition Analyser?
Body composition is arranged by healthcare professionals to evaluate a person’s body weight by breaking it down into its core components like: Fat, protein, body water, and minerals. Some analysers also provide regional body composition including an estimate of visceral fat. Body composition provides a more accurate assessment of your health than traditional methods like Body Mass Index (BMI) and body weight.
Body composition analysis is used by obesity specialists, kidney specialists, cardiologists, gyms, wellness and anti-ageing clinics.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) works by sending a small electrical current into a person and measuring the opposition of that current (impedance or resistance to the current) as it travels throughout the body’s water. Once impedance or resistance to the current is measured, body composition is calculated and provided either digitally or on a hard copy.
Is Body Mass index a good guide to weight loss?
No, Body Mass Index (BMI) is NOT a good guide to weight loss. BMI is a crude estimate of obesity or fat content in the body. Here, we provide you two case scenarios to show why BMI cannot be relied on to monitor weight loss.
A 38 year body builder and has been spending several years weight training and bodybuilding. He has a diet which is high in protein to facilitate bodybuilding. His vital parameters including Blood pressure and, baseline blood tests are all normal. His body mass index is 35Kg/m2, which indicates he is in the obese range. However a body composition analysis done with a credible medical grade body composition revealed a fat % of only 18 and above normal muscle mass indicating he is not clinically obese.
Similarly, a 55 year old menopausal lady was seen in the obesity clinic as she was struggling to lose weight despite several diets including meal replacements. Her initial assessment based on her height and revealed she was morbidly obese with a Body Mass Index of 42Kg/m2. She subsequently has a body composition analysis, which showed her to be sarcopenic. Sarcopenia is a condition when the muscle mass is low. Her muscle mass was low, she has excessive extracellular fluid and her fat % was 55. This clearly has an impact on her basal metabolic rate. Our specialist undertook further test to identify the reason for sarcopenia and fluid accumulation. Addressing the underlying issues helped her lose weight.
Can Body Composition Analysis(BCA) help me lose weight?
Serial Body Composition Analysis helps your health care provider understand the changes your body is undergoing during your weight loss plan. A number of Very low calorie diets, Low carbohydrate diets and Fad diets results in quick weight loss. The weight loss encountered may not be sustainable. Analysis of serial body composition will show if the weight loss was due to just loss of water. Losing just fluids does not alter your metabolism. Weight regain is encountered eventually.
In order to lose weight in a healthy way and sustain the weight loss, it is important to ensure your muscle mass is improved and you lose fat. This means your fat free mass should be increased.
BCA also helps people understand why someone is NOT losing weight despite exercising and eating less.
What are the instructions to follow when assessing your Body Composition?
When planning to have a body composition it is preferable to have it done at the same time of the day. It is also recommended not to Exercise 3 hours before or drink water 2 hours before the analysis. We also recommend women should not have their body composition analysis done just before or during their menstrual cycle.
Who cannot have a Body Composition?
You should not have a body composition analysis using bioimpedance equipment’s, if you have a
metallic implant or pacemaker or if you are pregnant
Please always inform your doctor if you have any serious medical conditions like heart failure, renal failure or liver failure.
BCA should not be done just before or during periods as fluid retention can give misleading results.
Interpretation of Body Composition?
Body composition analysers vary widely in quality and accuracy. You can get equipment like bathroom weighing scales which claim to show your body composition. BCA in shopping centres do not provide medical grade data and are not well calibrated. You should be aware that not all Body composition devices test the entire body. Consumer body composition scales, used in gyms measure leg bioimpedance only and use estimations to determine results for the upper body. Handheld devices only directly measure arm impedance and estimate results for the lower body.
Modern, medical-grade Bio impedance devices are able to measure the entire body directly and can be extremely accurate. The measurements from these machines closely align with “Gold Standard” procedures like DEXA scan. The most advanced Bio Impedance devices are even able to perform regional body composition.
Most importantly interpretation and analysis of serial body composition is very important. This requires a health care professional with knowledge of medicine and medical conditions which can impact the body composition.
Always ensure you have your body composition done in a reputed clinic and interpretation is done by health care professionals who can correlate your medical conditions and medications.